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Canada Invests $65M to Build Biotech City in Effort to Compete with US

NEW YORK, June 5 - A coalition of Quebec local and provincial government agencies said Tuesday that they would invest $100 million Canadian ($65.3 million) to establish a "biotech city" in Laval, a city neighboring Montreal. 

The biotechnology park, part of a $250 million Canadian project to attract startups and established companies to Quebec, offers companies tax, rent, and equipment incentives to locate in Laval, said Pierre Lapointe, the executive director of INRS. The 10.8 million square foot industrial park is centered around the Armand-Frappier campus of the Institute National de la Recherche Scientifique (INRS) in Laval.

Lapointe said the depth of its financial incentives for companies made the initiative unique, and that it is "the most aggressive program" in terms of targeting biotechnology and genomics companies. First established in 1986, the "biotech city" already contains 32 companies, but Lapointe said he hoped to bring at least 15 more companies to the biotechnology park within three years.

Because of the francophone environment in Laval, the biotechnology park may be particularly attractive to European biotechnology companies hoping to establish branch offices in North America, Lapointe added. But in addition, the strength of the American dollar, compared to the value of the Canadian currency, would make research cost effective in Canada, he said.

"The US is our normal partner," he said, "and due to currency valuations you can do 1.5 times more research."

For the near-term, Lapointe said the project would double the space available to participating companies, from 75,000 to 150,000 square feet, split evenly between startups and more mature companies. Over three years, the initiative plans to build seven new facilities on the grounds, he said.

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